Friday, December 06, 2013

How to watch SOML or other not very good TV

Last night I got into a little trouble for saying a TV show was bad, when I didn't say that all. I said it was not very good. Which was actually a compliment. I was talking about NBC's Sound of Music Live, which I was watching at my sister's house in Dallas with the rest of the family, after an eight hour drive which ended in freezing rain. Here's what I tweeted:

I support liveness therefore I support #TheSoundofMusicLive. Plus, TV is not supposed to be very good.

This statement was in reaction to a flurry of tweets from others about what was bad about the show. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with any of those. My point was that this was the kind of TV event that wasn't about quality and whether, say, Carrie Underwood can act. It was about watching something as it happened, and allowing for multiple pleasures for the audience simultaneously assembled. For me, it was reveling in a what seemed a desperate and nostalgic gesture of pure TV on a number of levels. 

A country singer/star and American Idol winner at the center of what is most famous as a film musical but seen by most people on TV, with Anna Paquin's vampire husband as Baron Von Trapp? This wasn't just about mocking the performance. I was genuinely impressed by the live staging. Yes, it might have seemed less awkward with a studio audience, but I can't imagine how they could have done that with so many sets and camera setups. I haven't read anything about the making of it, but I'm sure there were many cameras and stages.

Anyway, the bigger point I was making was that TV isn't supposed to very good if you look at it too closely. Right now, this was "pure TV" (aside from the production end of things) in that it was best experienced live with others, in a state of semi-distraction. Better if those around you have something at stake in liking Carrie Underwood. This being America, liking the Sound of Music, or at least knowing it through osmosis, is a given. Go make a drink or a sandwich and don't push pause. Just listen. You know the story already, anyway. What's the point of making fun of it? 

Am I reading against the grain of my own ironic sensibility these days? Every now and then.

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